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December 2nd, 2005
Costa Rica is not known for it’s fine cuisine. In general, this is probably a deserved reputation as it tends to be centered around rice, beans, chicken, pork, and beef (tongue especially is very popular here). However, how the above items are combined is within the realm of the cook and that makes all the difference. I find a lot of the cooking here to be really good! Generally, beef here is terrible. I think this is due in part to the lack of vast grazing lands. Also, the concept of aging a steak is not yet part of the Costa Rican culture.
To me, it has always been a wonder why folks move to a foreign country like Costa Rica only to live in residential strongholds of their countrymen and spend all their time at Tony Romas, TGIFridays, etc.
Many never make an attempt to learn the language nor the customs of the new country. I guess they just want to be able to say they live in Costa Rica.
If there is one dish that perhaps represents Costa Rican cuisine more than any other, it has to be Gallo Pinto. Anyone considering a move to Costa Rica should give this dish a try because it will most certainly be in your life here in country!
This simple (sort of) dish contains the requisite rice and beans, but the seasonings and cooking make all the difference. Normally, this is more of a breakfast dish… often served with eggs, a breakfast meat etc., but it is by no means limited to breakfast. In fact, we had it for dinner last night.
I have sampled well over a hundred ‘versions’ of GP since I have lived here. Very few are crummy. Some are ummmm… OK. Others are good… and then there are the really good recipes. My housekeeper Jeanette makes a really good gallo pinto. My wifey makes one that rivals Jeanette’s. This is unusual because Luisa can’t make coffee. This to me is astonishing! A Tica who cannot make coffee. Oh well… she is so great in so many other areas. Also, it is really good to have a new bride who doesn’t speak English nor understand the term blog!
Now to REALLY digress…. ML just woke up and called me back to bed for morning H and K. She asked what I was doing and I told her (which is why she doesn’t have to learn English… duh!). I have tried to explain the concept of the blog, but though she understands my words, I think the concept of publishing ones diary is anathema. Diaries are private. Her’s is… all 57 volumes! Anyway, I asked her how she can make such a fine GP and suck at making coffee, She just laughed and laughed and snuggled closer. Geez I adore this woman. Ten days left.
OK… back to the subject.
The BEST Gallo Pinto though, is made by Kembly, my son’s girlfriend (novia) here in Costa Rica. Kembly can make coffee too, but her GP is special. After annoying her for many months, she finally gave me the recipe which I am adding below for anyone who is interested. In English and in Spanish BTW. Enjoy! Coming to CR? Try your hand at the national dish!
1 cup of cooked rice
1 cup of cooked beans
1 chopped onion (small)
1 small chopped red pepper
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1 tbs oil
¼ cup chopped cilantro
4 Tbs. Salsa Lizano (available in our online store) – (can useWorcestershire sauce but don’t expect the same taste!)
Pinch of black pepper
1 tbs seasoning
How to prepare
1. Fry onion, red pepper, garlic, cilantro in the vegetable oil, about 3 minutes.
2. Pour in the beans and add the sauce, black pepper and seasoning. Let it cook for a few minutes, but don’t let it dry out.
3. Pour in the cooked rice and mix it with the beans
Eggs (fried or scrambled )
Or in Spanish
1 taza de Arroz cocinado (sencillo reventado)
1 taza de frijoles cocinados con poco caldo (sencillos en el sabor)
1 chile rojo picado
1 cebolla picada fina
2 cdas cilantro picado muy fino
1 cdta aceite
1 cda de ajo
4 cdas de Salsa Lizano (available in our online store)
2 pizca de pimienta negra
1- Se sofrien en el aceite la cebolla, el chile, el culantro, ajo.
2- Cuando están muy crujientes se les agrega los frijoles cocidos y la salsa lizano, pimienta negra y cubito.
3- Se agrega el arroz y se frien un poco todos juntos para mezclar sabores.
4- Se dejan un momento en reposo , luego se mueve con un cucharon los ingredientes para que se mezclen.
Se puede acompañar con Natilla
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